Screen Shot 2021-09-22 at 9.32.59 AM
Courtesy Steven Hyatt (

“Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray/All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful”

“Mr. Jones,” Counting Crows

of late i have been wearing
too many shirts along the spectrum of blue

blue is a heavy color to wear
not like black which is the color of no light

the opposite of the sun
which is the color of all light

blue&black sit against the skin
like the aftermath of tripping and falling

being tossed around below deck
with an ocean raging all around you

out of the blue i keep losing my balance
distracted by anything colored the absence of you

it is never about the certainty of the falling
but the aftermath of the landing in blue&black

10 days after the falling and the landing
the bruising jaundiced and bone sore to the touch

i have begun choosing only shirts in gray
and walking steadily as if you are holding my hand

—P.L. Thomas


“People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination
no autopsy necessary
for the self-defeating deniers

burst open at the sternum
like a scene from Alien

with a frantic “o shit” look 
on their grimacing faces

littering our streets and floors
like exterminated cockroaches 

scattered about for the rest of us
who revered the possibility of “dragons”

either to walk around the decay
or risk our lives cleaning up their mess

—P.L. Thomas

the existential couple: “the struggle itself”

Yes, I’m listening, I’m listening

I can tell that you are serious

“90-Mile Water Wall,” The National
the existential couple loved each other 
like shouldering a boulder up a mountain

watching it slip away each pause at the top
before descending silently hand-in-hand 

the boulder of course was their love
their burden and their purpose forever

watching them from a distance in the valley
many saw only the burden of a boulder

philosophers and poets understood “the struggle itself”
imploring us to imagine the existential couple happy

the existential couple loved each other 
like shouldering a boulder up a mountain

watching it slip away each pause at the top
before descending silently hand-in-hand 

—P.L. Thomas

did we (this story of me and you)

Just come outside and leave with me

“Day I Die,” The National

did we fall in love
the way we fall asleep

softly and then hard
reaching one for the other
through dreams and tangled covers


this is our true
i will die on you
leaving you blue
our days too few
there’s nothing we can do
this story of me and you


loving is not dreaming
living is not pretending


did we fall in love
the way we fall asleep

softly and then hard
reaching one for the other
through dreams and tangled covers

—P.L. Thomas

we weathered winter (silence & shouting)

The more level they have me/ The more I cannot stand me

“I’ll Still Destroy You,” The National
we weathered winter once again
the sun slipping away later & later
daylight & hope expanding

this winter like all winters
was unlike any winter before
unlike any winter ahead


i imagine late at night
you do not understand
the silence & shouting

everything ascending
into the trees
completely quiet & afraid


how we huddle here
like lovers entwined asleep
hoping with spring

maybe there will be drums
maybe there will be horns
maybe there will be singing

—P.L. Thomas

a human throat (ineffable)

The dead cannot call out to us. All they can do is wait for us to call to them.

A Man, Keiichiro Hirano
i have always disliked xmas
     holidays and bow-wrapped gifts 
     the shortest daylight of the year
     the seasonal depression
     of being always a stranger

i have been losing xmas eve
     social media reminding me
     a crushed cycling helmet from 2016
     a text message xmas morning 2020
     my aunt killed herself the night before
i have not cried for my aunt yet
     our fractured family tensions
     quilted with abrupt texts and messaging
     verbalizing the weight of suicide
     the frailty of just being human
i have pervasive anxiety about that frailty
     the shock of suicide reminds me of Camus
     “that after a while you could get used to anything”
     except of course those who can no longer
     fathom simply waking up one xmas morning
i have so many mostly ineffable words
     minutiae tenuous melancholia existentialism mundane
     this language merry-go-round chiming out of kilter
     her matter-of-fact obituary-life of 192 words
     a 17-word text admitting “box cutter” and “throat”
—P.L. Thomas

proximity (poetry & polar bears)

Candor is incompatible with freedom.

The Naked Eye, Yoko Tawada
i am afraid
neither of poets
nor of polar bears
none of this
really has much
to do with fear
most of this
i think instead
is a matter of proximity
i will never be close
enough to a polar bear
to realize that fragility
i am terrified however
of never again being
mauled by poetry
you see i will never walk
across the snow covered ice
trafficked by polar bears
but i long to be
lured over and over
onto the thin ice of a poem
—P.L. Thomas 

my body is failing me (the bees returned)

What I want
All I really wanted
Just to live my life on high

“I’ve Been High,” R.E.M.

i. <my body is failing me>
my body is failing me aging
in ways only my lover knows
with the bittersweet awareness of intimacy
and then briefly revealed disappointment 
i watch my lover paint her fingernails black
her bare feet with toenails candy apple red
if i took a picture to hold her/us there
as if i could stop time from buzzing by
it still would change nothing about me
a body failing me and her there on the floor
ii. <the bees returned>
the bees returned
a couple weeks into november
a hurricane well to our south
pushing summer-like fall back
over us after a first taste of winter
honey bees and yellow jackets
swarming in the warming air
while thunderstorms surrounded us
overdressed in long sleeves and jackets
iii. <this>
i have told her everything i can so far
into a yellowing life that less remains now
but this:
bee stings swell and ache
in the cusp of fall and winter
as if it were the heart of summer
—P.L. Thomas 

Too many have written

Too many have written
about the dilemma
of gods falling in love
with mere mortals
O the choices!
O the sacrifices!
to be a god smitten
with a mutable human
What bullshit however
since these authors
clearly have themselves
never been in love
O the choices!
O the sacrifices!
to be a human smitten
with another human
We need not imagine
gods falling in love
to understand that weight
of loving singular and deep
To hell with Zeus and Superman!
I am tired of the posturing
while I live in a state of decay
regardless of the pull of my heart
A god’s terrible sacrifice
pales against the skin
of human lovers embracing
in full awareness of Death
Promising despite it all
“I will love you forever”
even though we cannot
give more than our brief lives
—P.L. Thomas
Leda and the Swan by Peter Paul Rubens (public domain)

children, children, black&white

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright…
“The Tyger,” William Blake
Dost thou know who made thee…
“The Lamb,” William Blake

children, children, black&white
do you know who made you

made you black
made you white
made you neither

children, children, black&white
do you know who loves you

we will see you
hold you tight
our precious children

—P.L. Thomas

This slideshow requires JavaScript.